Tuesday, June 01, 2010
SPACE NUCLEAR POWER - OBAMA GIVES GO AHEAD FOR MORE
This video (all in French but with important archival film footage) is about Cosmos 954, a Soviet nuclear-powered space surveillance satellite that was launched on September 18, 1977 and crashed in the region of Great Slave Lake near Yellowknife, Canada. Canada and the U.S. launched an immediate cleanup and recovery, called "Operation Morning Light". This report was aired on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation a few months after the accident.
The Russian satellite disintegrated and rained radioactive debris which covered some 124,000 square kilometers. Two hundred and twenty Canadian Armed Forces and the U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Emergency Search Team combed the area until October 1978, trying to salvage fragments of the satellite. But according to the Atomic Energy Control Commission (now the Canadian Nuclear Safety) only 0.1% of the atomic energy source on Cosmos 954 was recovered.
There have been several other space nuclear power accidents over the years. According to journalist Karl Grossman, "In 1964 a U.S. Navy navigational satellite with a SNAP-9A (SNAP for Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power) nuclear generator on-board failed to achieve orbit and fell to the Earth, disintegrating upon hitting the atmosphere. The 2.1 pounds of plutonium fuel dispersed widely. A study by a group of European health and radiation protection agencies subsequently reported that 'a worldwide soil sampling program carried out in 1970 showed SNAP-9A debris present at all continents and at all latitudes.' Long linking the SNAP-9A accident to an increase of lung cancer in people on Earth was Dr. John Gofman, professor of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley, who was involved in isolating plutonium for the Manhattan Project."
Then in 1996 the Russian Mars '96 space mission failed to achieve orbit after launch and burned up as it reentered Earth's atmosphere. The space craft was carrying 200 grams of plutonium on-board and the flaming reentry was witnessed by a NASA scientist who was on a star gazing trip as it landed in the mountains of Chile and Bolivia. Those governments, not having the capability to locate the radiological debris, asked then President Bill Clinton to send them assistance. He refused and only the Boston Globe and Christian Science Monitor reported the accident as most of the media ignored this important story.
In 2003 the NASA space shuttle Colombia burned up when it reentered Earth's atmosphere due to heat shields having blown off during launch. All the astronauts on-board were killed. The flaming reentry was watched on TV as the debris was spread across several southern states. NASA immediately sent in search teams and told the public to stay away from the debris. One local sheriff was heard on National Public Radio telling the public that NASA told him the debris could be radioactive. I myself saw NASA personnel in haz-mat suits on TV and it was clear that a nuclear generator or reactor had to have been on the shuttle. To this day NASA denies the story.
In the soon to be published Global Network newsletter, Space Alert, Karl Grossman writes about Obama's plan to restart plutonium production at the Department of Energy nuclear labs across the nation. This is being done as Obama intends to increase the use of nuclear power for missions to Mars and for nuclear rockets.
All we need is one failed rocket, or one falling nuclear powered spacecraft, to spread deadly plutonium-238 across the planet. This stuff lasts for thousands of years and we can't take a chance by playing space nuclear Russian roulette.